Justice Film Festival Celebrates Their 10th Anniversary with New Films

Justice Film Festival

Justice Film Festival is the premier showcase for films that celebrate social justice and affirm the sacred dignity of the human person. They are celebrating their 10th anniversary on March 9-12 at its longtime home, the Sheen Center for Thought & Culture. In addition, a parallel west coast event will take place in San Diego March 24-26 in partnership with local non-profit Makers. Over 30 selected features and shorts including world premiere screenings, content from studios and emerging filmmakers, and "Behind the Lens" talkback sessions with filmmakers from around the world will be featured at both events. 

Four standout feature films have been announced as early official selections: 

Refuge, directed by Din Blankenship and Erin Bernhardt, is a film about love and fear in the American South. Chris Buckley is a husband, father, veteran, and until recently, a leader in the KKK. He began hating Muslims when the planes hit the twin towers on 9/11 but is forced to confront his hate when he receives a text message from Muslim refugee, Dr. Heval Kelli. Heval lives in Clarkston, Georgia, a town that has welcomed refugees from around the world for over 40 years and is known as the most ethnically diverse square mile in America. Clarkston residents have survived persecution in their home countries, and now they find themselves threatened by a new kind of hate - American white nationalism. Refuge illustrates the roots of hate, its devastating impacts, and ultimately how it can be overcome by love. 

Thistle, directed by Ryan Camp, is an authentic and inspiring film that explores the complexity of Thistle Farms, a Nashville, Tennessee-based recovery community for women survivors as the organization grapples to find hope and healing in the midst of a changing environment. From Oscar®-nominated filmmaker Robbie Brenner (Dallas Buyers Club) and writer/director Andrew Heckler comes 

Burden, a dramatic true story of compassion and grace in the American South. When a museum celebrating the Ku Klux Klan opens in a small South Carolina town, the idealistic Reverend Kennedy (Academy Award®-winner Forest Whitaker) resolves to do everything in his power to prevent long-simmering racial tensions from boiling over. But the members of Kennedy's congregation are shocked to discover that his plan includes sheltering Mike Burden (Garrett Hedlund), a Klansman whose relationships with both a single-mother (Andrea Riseborough) and a high-school friend (Usher Raymond) force him to re-examine his long-held beliefs. After Kennedy helps Mike leave behind his violent past, the Baptist preacher finds himself on a collision course with manipulative KKK leader Tom Griffin (Tom Wilkinson). In the face of grave threats to himself and his family, the resolute Kennedy bravely pursues a path toward peace, setting aside his own misgivings in the hopes of healing his wounded community. 

Unguarded, directed by Simonetta D'Italia Weiner, takes us inside the walls of APAC, the revolutionary Brazilian prison system centered on the full recovery and rehabilitation of the person. Seeing men and women frequently return to a life of crime once they left prison, Dr. Mario Ottoboni decided to found his own restorative justice-based system. The results have been extraordinary: while the crime rate and recidivism rates have continued to increase in Brazil's public prisons, within the APAC (Association for the Protection and Assistance of Convicts) system they have steadily decreased. Unguarded explores the unique method behind this system, now present in twenty-three countries across four continents. Observing the daily lives of the "recuperandos" (recovering inmates) who live and work there, we see firsthand why-as one inmate puts it-"no one escapes from love." 

Other topics featured in this years' festival will include Racial Justice, Environmental Justice, Addiction, Poverty, Immigration, Equality for Women, Gun Control, Incarceration, and Justice for Migrants. 

JFF director and founder Andy Peterson says, "After a difficult couple of years we are so happy to finally be back to inviting filmmakers and patrons back to the theater. The world has changed in profound ways over the last two years, not just due to our ongoing battle with Covid but the very necessary conversation on racial justice that continues. We are embracing the opportunity to create space for these vitally important conversations in communities like New York and now San Diego. For 2022 we have curated our best film lineup ever and are proud to participate in the greater movements of equity and inclusion by sharing these groundbreaking films." 

"This year, more than ever, we are proud to partner with the Justice Film Festival to highlight stories of hope, healing and inspiration," says David DiCerto, Director of Programming of The Sheen Center. "As a faith-based arts center, we aspire to showcase works that uphold the sacred dignity of the human person, speak with a moral voice against injustice, and encourage a more loving, empathetic, forgiving community. I think this year's slate of films does just that." 

Tickets along with a complete film program and schedule will be available on February 1. Please check for further announcements and follow JFF on Instagram and Twitter

Tags : justice film festival faith-based movies Thistle Refuge burden Unguarded

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